Type: Small tactical transport Designer: AVIC Xi'an Aircraft Design Institute (603 Institute) Manufacturer: AVIC Xi'an Aircraft Industry Corporation (XAC) First flight: 25 December 1970 Introduction: 1980 Operators: PLA Air Force, PLA Ground Force (Army Aviation), PLA Naval Air Force Crew: 5 (Y-7); 3 (Y-7-100/Y-7H); 2 (MA60/MA600/Y-7G) In-flight refuelling: No
The Y-7 is a small twin-engine turboprop passenger aircraft developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industry Company (XAC) based on the Russian Antonov An-24 (NATO code name: ‘Coke’) and An-26 (NATO code name: ‘Curl’) military transport. As well as being used as a short-range passenger airliner, the Y-7 has been operated by the PLA as a tactical military transport and training aircraft. The aircraft is operational with the aviation element of all three PLA service branches: Air Force, Army Aviation Corps, and Naval Air Force.
Xi’an Aircraft Factory (now XAC) began to develop the Y-7 twin-engine turboprop passenger plane based on the An-24 ‘Coke’ in April 1966. The first prototype powered by two 2,550 hp turboprop engines made its maiden flight on 25 December 1970. However, the aircraft failed to pass its certification in 1977 due to its underrated engines. A second attempt to get the aircraft certified in 1979 was also unsuccessful. A revised design powered by two improved 2,900 hp WJ-5A-1 turboprop engines first flew in 1980, and the aircraft was finally approved for design finalisation in July 1982. The aircraft was certified for passenger flight in January 1984, with a total of 85 examples delivered by 1992.
By the time it was introduced, the Y-7 was already obsolete for airline operations. As a result, XAC initiated a project in the mid-1980s to upgrade the Y-7 with Western avionics in cooperation with Hong Kong-based HAECO. The resulted Y-7-100 was incorporated with a revised passenger interior, Western-designed avionics, and wingtip winglets. The original five-man flight crew was reduced to three, and the number of passenger seats was increased to 52. The aircraft met the requirements for commercial passenger flight in all-weather conditions.
The improved Y-7-200A first flew in 1993 and was certified for commercial passenger flight in 1998. The aircraft featured a slightly longer fuselage, increasing the number of passenger seats to 56—60. The aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW127C turboprop engines with the Hamilton 247F-3 propellers, giving it improved fuel efficiency and lower cabin noise. The aircraft adopted a two-man flight crew, and was also fitted with an auxiliary power unit (APU) to supply power for the air conditioning when the aircraft is on the ground.
Based on the Y-7-200A, XAC subsequently introduced the Y-7-200B, MA60, and MA600 for the commercial airline market. The MA-60 features a number of improvements including the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127J turboprop engine, Hamilton Standard propellers, Garrett (now Honeywell) APU, and Honeywell/King KHF 950 radio. The aircraft made its maiden flight in 2000 and is now serving with 13 countries including Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Tonga, and Laos. The improved MA-600 first flew in 2008. Their military variant (possibly with indigenous engines) is designated Y-7G, which has been operated by the PLAAF for short-haul VIP passenger flights.
Development of the MA60 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), designated MA60H, began around 2013 after receiving an order from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The ‘B-5002’ rolled out of the production line in October 2016 and was delivered to the China Coast Guard (CCG) in April 2017. The aircraft is said to be equipped with a fuselage-mounted surveillance radar and a nose-mounted electro-optical surveillance system. It also features a fuselage-mounted and two underwing auxiliary tanks for extended range. Although the MA60H is not armed, AVIC has previously revealed an MA60 MPA concept that would carry torpedoes and sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
The freighter variant Y-7H (also known as Y-7H-500 in its commercial name) was developed in the late 1980s based on the An-26 ‘Curl’. First flying in 1989, the aircraft features a fully pressurised fuselage, two improved 3,050 hp WJ-5E turboprop engines, an auxiliary turbojet engine fitted on the left engine, improved cockpit avionics, and a rear cargo door with loading ramp. The cargo cabin is also equipped with electric hinge and hydraulic transmission systems to assist the loading/unloading. The aircraft entered service with the PLA in the late 1990s.
The Y-7 features high-mounted wings which are equally tapered from the engines to the blunt tips. Two turboprops are mounted in pods beneath the wings, which extend beyond the wings’ leading and trailing edges. The fuselage is long and slender with an upswept rear section and a solid, rounded nose featuring a stepped cockpit. The fin is back-tapered with a blunt tip and angular fairing. Flats are high-mounted on the body, back-tapered with blunt tips, and have a positive slant.
The basic variant Y-7 is powered by two WJ-5A-1 turboprop engines, each rated at 2,900hp. The Y-7H is powered by two WJ-5E turboprop engines, each rated at 3,050 hp. It also has a 900 kg PY19A-300 auxiliary turbojet engine fitted on its left engine.
Y-7 prototype: Copy of the An-24RV with only 4 examples built. First flying on 25 December 1970.
Y-7 production variant: First flying in 1980. Powered by 2,900hp WJ-5A-1 engines, with a 5-man cockpit.
Y-7-100: Passenger variant with Western avionics, 3-man cockpit, and winglets.
HYJ-7: Training aircraft for transport and bomber crews based on the Y-7-100. The aircraft features a five small weapon bays, each capable of carrying two 250 kg free-fall bombs. A bulky observation bay is installed on the starboard side of the fuselage for a single pupil to practice visual bombing.
Y-7H: Also known as Y-7H-500. Cargo variant based on An-26 ‘Curl’.
Y-7-200A/B: Improved passenger variant with Western avionics and propellers, and 2-man flight crew.
MA60: Modernised commercial passenger airliner introduced in 2000.
MA600: Much improved commercial passenger airliner introduced in 2008.
MA60H: Maritime patrol aircraft for the China Coast Guard, with the first example delivered in May 2017.
Y-7G: Improved passenger variant for the PLA, possibly based on the Y-7-200B or MA-60 but with indigenous avionics and engines.
Length (m): 24.71. Height (m): 8.55. Wingspan (m): 29.2. Empty weight (t): 13.7—14.5. Max take-off weight (t): 21.8. Max payload (kg): 5,000—5,500. Cruising speed (km/h): 456—470. Service ceiling (m): 8,148. Range (km): 1,600—1,800. Take-off/landing distance (m): 1,200—1,300.